From Warangal to Sultanpur

20 years into Prataparudra’s reign, the Delhi Sultanate invaded the Kakatiya kingdom for the first time. Ala-ud-din Khilji sent his slave general Malik Kafur to bully Prataparudra into subordination. A month-long stand-off between Kafur’s army and the Kakatiya’s ended when the outer walls of Warangal were breached. The Kakatiya king sued for peace and peace, he got. But if history (or Game of Thrones) has taught us anything, it’s that peace seldom lasts long. Especially in the 14th century.

After the demise of the Khilji dynasty in 1320, Prataparudra probably thought that things could only get better for him. The fight for succession in Delhi was getting messy and it was only logical that he would declare ‘independence’ from the tyranny of the Sultanate. But when the Tughlaq dynasty took control of Delhi, Khilji’s policy’s of non-annexation was promptly upturned by them and Warangal was in trouble again.

Good Luck, Tughlaq!

Ulugh Khan, more popular as Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, is made out to be quite the character. Known to most of us who studied history in Indian schools as the “Mixture of Opposites” (we’re still not quite sure what that means), Tughlaq was the poster-boy for bad policy-making. He managed, however, to do one thing efficiently – his conquest of Warangal marked the Delhi Sultanate’s dominance in the Deccan lands, even if only for a brief period.

Less than a year after he established the dynasty and ascended the throne, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq sent his son to rein in Warangal. Incidentally, it is Ghiyasuddin who is credited with the first recorded usage of the word ‘Telangana’. Coins minted by the dynasty had the words ‘Zarb Mulk-i-Tilang’ (“struck in the land of Telugus”) inscribed on them to remind people of their conquest over the land. The word has, however, acquired a narrower and *ahem* divisive meaning today, but we digress.

Ulugh Khan promptly marched out to Deogir, which he used as a base to attack Warangal. A six-month siege of Warangal proved to be unsuccessful, thanks to rumours about Tughlaq Sr.’s death doing the rounds in Tughlaq Jr.’s camp, and Khan had to retreat to Deogir. Prataparudra threw a massive public party to celebrate what he thought was the end of his problems, only to find Ulugh Khan back on his doorstep within a year – this time with a larger army. The city walls were effortlessly breached and Warangal fell in no time. And thus, the last ‘local’ rulers of the region were gone.

The Svayambhusiva temple, whose ruins can still be found at the Warangal Fort, was desecrated as a symbol of the defeat of the Siva-worshipping Kakatiyas. Prataparudra was taken captive; he killed himself on the banks of the Narmada while being marched to Delhi. Warangal was renamed to Sultanpur and the Southern border of the Sultanate was immediately pushed from the Narmada river to the Krishna. It grew to include Madurai and Kampili, a small kingdom which would become the seat of the Vijayanagara empire a decade later. It is this rapid expansion of the Sultanate that later prompted Ulugh Khan to infamously shift his capital from Delhi to a more central Deogir (or Daulatabad, as it was later named by our man) and piss everybody off in the process, thus earning him his infamous title.

Tughlaq Dynasty Map

The extent of Tughlaq rule after their Southern conquests. Source: A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, Volume 1

 

Sources:

Richard M. Eaton. (2005). A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, Volume 1

Dr. P.V.P. Sastry. (1978). The Kakatiyas of Warangal.

Ghulam Yazdani. (1961). The Early History of the Deccan.

Satish Chandra . (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526) – Part One.

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About Double ka Meetha

Chronicler of all things Hyderabadi. And old.
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